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Mexico Sees Reduction in Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption after National Soda Tax

Mexico Sees Reduction in Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption after National Soda Tax

A couple weeks back, we wrote about how San Francisco took a key step toward reducing consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages by passing an ordinance requiring warning labels on advertisements for the products. We also talked about ongoing efforts at the statewide level aimed at confronting the health crisis posed by sugary drinks. In particular, we pointed to two bills: SB 203 (Monning), which would have required warning labels similar to those passed in San Francisco, and AB 1357 (Bloom), which would have imposed a two cent per ounce fee on the distribution on the beverages. Unfortunately, both of these bills failed to pass through the legislature. But a new study out of Mexico might breathe new life into at least one of these efforts in the coming years.

A new study by Mexico’s National Institute of Public Health and the University of North Carolina has found that Mexico’s national sugar-sweetened beverage tax implemented in 2014 has led to a reduction in consumption of the drinks. The tax of one peso per liter (roughly a 10% increase) was found to reduce consumption across the country, and particularly in low-income communities.

This study revealed an average reduction of 6% in the purchase of taxed sugar-sweetened beverages during 2014. This reduction increased over the course of the year to reach 12% by December 2014. … Preliminary results of the study, funded by Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, indicate that household sugary drink purchases reduced across all socioeconomic levels and that the reduction was greatest among the lowest socioeconomic group. Households with the fewest resources reduced their sugar-sweetened purchases by 9% on average during 2014 and achieved a reduction of 17% by the end of the year.

These findings should prove useful in future debates about the impact of a tax on soda and other sugar-sweetened beverages. A 12% reduction is significant. In our brief last year, Not So Sweet: Confronting the Health Crisis from Sugar-Sweetened Beverages in California, we worked with the Center for Vulnerable Populations at San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Center and the University of California San Francisco to find that reducing consumption by 10% would prevent 12,000 new cases of diabetes and save $318 million in health care costs over the next decade.

What we’re seeing in Mexico shows that such a reduction is possible with a soda tax. This, along with San Francisco’s ordinance earlier this month, will encourage health advocates across the state as we continue working to counter the role sugar-sweetened beverages play in California’s obesity and diabetes epidemics.

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